Annie Duke’s ‘Thinking in Bets’ WHAT A POKER PRO CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT LUCK AND RISK
Annie Duke may seem an unlikely business consultant, given she’s best known as a professional poker player. But the lessons in her new book “Thinking in Bets” extend far beyond the felt. Duke, who studied psychology at UPenn and has consulted for a number of companies, takes the decision-making lessons she learned at the poker table and applies them to the hard choices we have to make in business. To emphasize the nature of her work, Duke begins with an introduction called “Why This Isn’t a Poker Book.” She writes that the process of thinking in bets “starts with recognizing there are exactly two things that determine how our lives turn out: the quality of our decisions and luck.” When you make a decision, you rarely have perfect
clarity regarding all the factors in play. This imperfect picture is what makes every business decision risky. Duke argues that ignoring inherent risk results in dangerous, outcome-based thinking. As an alternative, she proposes that you acknowledge not every decision will be the right one. This way, you can investigate the nature of your decision- making process and improve it without being blinded by lucky (or unlucky) results. Poker provides a fertile analogy for this concept. It’s a game of imperfect information. No matter how much poker you’ve played, you never know which cards the other players hold. You can make educated inferences based on the information you gather, but there is always going to be a risk in calling a bet. The process parallels how we decide what’s best for a company. We
analyze all the information we have at hand and make a projection about the best option. Until the decision plays out, we won’t know the outcome. Though Duke knows more about poker than just about anyone, she doesn’t limit her examples to gambling. She writes with equal skill and depth about everything from CEOs to football coaches. “Thinking in Bets” is a comprehensive overview of risk assessment that provides countless tips on how to improve your decision-making. Even if you have no idea whether a flush beats a straight, you’ll find “Thinking in Bets” a valuable addition to your leadership library. Leadership requires making hundreds of decisions. Don’t you want to make them better?
BEET, MINT, AND RICOTTA HUMMUS INGREDIENTS • 1 6-ounce beet (about the size of an adult fist), scrubbed • 1 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
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• 1/4 teaspoon
• 1/3 cup tahini, well-mixed • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese • 1 garlic clove, grated • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
fresh ground pepper • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander • Mint leaves, poppy seeds, and olive oil, for garnish
1. Heat oven to 425 F. 2. Wrap beet tightly in foil. On a foil-lined baking sheet, roast wrapped beet until fork tender, about 60–70 minutes. 3. While beet is roasting, blend chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, ricotta, garlic, salt, pepper, and coriander until smooth. 4. Once beet is cool enough to handle, use a paper towel to remove beet skin. Trim root end and cut into small pieces. Add to blender or food processor, and blend until entire mixture is smooth. Add additional salt if desired. 5. Transfer to a shallow bowl, top with garnishes, and serve.
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